Frequently Asked Questions
vineyard image Q: How many wineries do you typically go to on a tour?

A: The number of wineries visited depends on many factors including travel time from your pick-up address to the wine areas, how many tastings you do at each winery, distances between selected wineries, and how long you want to linger over that yummy picnic. Generally, we make reservations at three wineries to start with and can add more later in the day if time permits.  We try to leave time at each winery for a relaxed experience.

Q: Do you only go to one area on a tour?

A: If you want to concentrate on one area, that's fine. If you want to sample wineries in different areas that may offer different types of wine, that's fine too. One great option is to stop at one or two wineries in one area, then move on to another area. This gives a break between tastings (your taste buds will thank you!), and provides the opportunity to try different wine styles.

Q: We are not that familiar with the Sierra foothill wineries. Can you help select where to go and what to do?

A: Absolutely! Just tell usa little information about your group and what you like, and we will make some suggestions for areas, wineries, types of wine, etc.

Q: What's the difference between going to wineries and tasting rooms that are not at wineries?

A: Many wineries have tasting rooms at the winery, but some have dedicated tasting rooms away from the winery, in a more convenient location, such as near a major road or in a small town. We usually prefer to go to wineries themselves whenever possible, because I find it enjoyable to see the location, vines, and facility that produce the wine. However, some wineries can be pretty remote and that cuts down on the time available for tastings so, in some cases, an off-site tasting room may work just fine. Also, if you are interested in perusing shops as well as wine tasting, some small towns offer both in convenient proximity.

Q: Should we plan to buy wines during our tour?

A: That is up to you, but we hope so! Many of the wineries in the Sierra foothills only sell out of the winery (you can't get them anywhere else), or have very limited distribution. Since we are in the business of promoting the Sierra wineries, we hope you will take home some wines that you enjoy. I find that taking home some wines from where I visit provides an additional benefit….when you open the wine sometime in the future, you will remember the great time you had at the winery, and the people you shared it with. You just can't get that same experience from the wine shelves at the local mega-mart.

Q: Can I save money buying from the wineries directly?

A: Most of the time, yes. While this is not always true on single bottle purchases, wineries usually offer discounts when you buy more. For instance, you may save 15% - 20% if you by a case (12 bottles) and that gives you something to enjoy well into the future. Also, most wineries will allow a case or more to be combined for the tour group, so if each person in a 6-person tour buys just two bottles, you still get the volume discount. Not surprisingly, the more you buy, the more you save per bottle.  Some wineries also provide wine purchase discounts, up to 15%, exclusively for Sierra Wine Experience tours.

green grapes imageQ: How expensive are the wines?

A: As you can imagine, the prices vary considerably depending on wine type, popularity, age, and other factors. In the Sierra foothills, wine prices typically range from the upper teens to just over $30 per bottle. There are, of course, exceptions in both directions and there are deals to be found if you know where to go.

Q: Are there any additional charges other than the basic tour costs?

A: (1) Tasting fees at the wineries are not included.  These are typically $5 - $10 per person, but this fee is often waived if you purchase wines (generally at least 1 bottle per person).  The tasting fees at wineries are constantly changing, and some wineries do not charge a tasting fee for our tour groups.  We do offer a tour option with tasting fees included for $70 per person, just in case you don’t want to worry about fees during your winery stops.

(2) Some weekends there are special events that feature wineries in a specific area or County. There may be food served at each winery, live music, barrel tastings, or other activities. These events usually have a ticket fee which provides a pass to all of the featured wineries. Costs for wine tasting, if applicable, and passes for special events, are not included in the tour costs.

(3) Gratuity is not included in the basic tour costs.  As a service business, gratuity is greatly appreciated, but we do not set a given amount or percentage.

Q: Can we combine wine tasting with other activities?

A: Sure! Although our main service is for wine tasting, we would be glad to stop for other activities in the area. These may include Apple Hill orchards during the fall; Christmas shopping in unique small towns; cavern tours; or other activities. Let us know what you are interested in.

Q: Can I bring the kids?

A: Wine tasting is an adult activity and children can be bored and disruptive in the tasting rooms. Although some folks do take their children along when wine tasting, we generally do not encourage children on wine tasting tours. However, if you are combining your wine tasting with other activities, such as visiting Apple Hill, that may be arranged. Please email us so we can work out the details.

Q: So what is the big deal about wine tasting – I usually just get a box at the mega-store?

A: Actually a good question! Wine is whatever you want it to be. As an experience, it can be as complex or as simple as you want. You can appreciate the nuances of aromas, flavors, acid balance, tannins, etc., or you can simply say, "I like this one!" One thing is certain, at least for me, wine is an essential part of almost any great meal. When well paired, it not only complements the food, it makes the food taste even better. Since you don't eat just one food, why drink only one type of wine? Wine tasting offers a way to experience many types of wines and how they can complement many different foods.  If you are interested in learning more about wine, our tours offer a great opportunity to experience and learn about different types of wines, wine areas, naming conventions, etc

Q: What terroir is characteristic of the Sierra AVA that imparts unique components to the primary varietal wines and why is there almost no Pinot Noir?

A: Dude! You really need to take the tour!  All will be answered!

Additional questions not answered here? Please contact us.

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